Gangs: Final Word.

Gang (defined): An identifiable group of people (highly organized or loosely structured) who form an alliance for a common purpose which identifies with or claims territory in the community. Members engage either individually or collectively in antisocial or unlawful activity/activities and frequently create an atmosphere of fear and intimidation.

So there is your full definition of criminal gangs. Hell's Angels, Bloods, Crips, La Cosa Nostra, the LA Riots, Crown Heights, Latin Kings, Westies.. those are gangs, under this definition.

What does Roanoke have? According to the Chief Gaskins, we do not have gangs. And I am inclined to agree.

I can tell you why Gaskins refuses to call them gangs. It's simple really. When you have criminals who affiliate themselves with other criminals, call themselves by a name, but do not create an overall atmosphere such as described above, you deal with them as individual lawbreakers. Only when they become organized enough to be a threat to the public at large (drive-by shootings, orchestrated territory warfare, full-on gang initiations) do you then deal with them as gangs.

The FBI deals with gangs that engage in drug running, gun running, and other aspects of organized crime. Very little that happens here in Roanoke can be considered organized crime.

This is not to say that in the past, there has not been trouble with such groups - but currently, there is not. I ask those of you out there with friends and co-workers who live in the affected areas (Lincoln Terrace, Chapman and Patterson Ave., Melrose-area) if they live in constant fear, and under threat of violence. I have co-workers and friends who do, and they tell me quite the opposite.

You can either judge by what the newspaper and media say, or ask someone directly affected.

A word on the comments I have received on this. There is discussion, there is debate, and then there is futility. Some of the comments raised valid points, but for the most part - it was on the level of national political campaigns. Lots of finger-pointing and name calling, which adds nothing to the conversation. I have, and will continue, to resist moderating comments, or banning them for certain posts alltogether. I do ask that comments be constructive. We are here to create solutions, not complain. At least thats my purpose for being here.

And as always, if you don't like what you read - feel free to let me know. But be prepared to offer your own ideas as well. This is a 2 way street.

And rather than worry about a single word, why not ask Chief Gaskins what is being done to improve the quality of life in these "gang areas."

In the interests of time

I will not go into my reasons for deleting the Gangs post. Honestly, it was really sad. Certain people will see this and think they got the better of me, and for what its work - thats fine. They have delusional issues anyway.

Fight your wars in your own way. Do what you will, but don't attempt to claim victory. Remember, the alleged gangs were in both the city AND county.

Have fun, I'll be working on building communities (which then eliminates the lure of the gang) - you can.. I don't know - lodge complaints against noisy mailmen?

Whatever.. your issue, not mine.


Mythbusting Roanoke

As some of you might know, I am originally from one of the 5 Boroughs of New York City. The one commonly referred to as the "most ethnically diverse county in the United States".

Home to over 2 million people, 2 of the busiest airports in the world, the 1939 and 1964 World's Fair, the 1969, 1973, 1986, and 2000 World Series.

Lots of restaurants, cafes, supermarkets, and plenty of hungry people to feed. Plus, the added attraction of mass transit that could get you just about anywhere in the 5 Boroughs quickly. Everywhere but Staten Island, which was just fine by 99% of the population of NYC.

As a cook in NY, I had opportunity to work in several different styles of kitchen. Starting in an American Bistro, and working around different spots until I left NY for warmer (much warmer today) climes. Somewhere in all that mess, I found time for proper schooling and training in the culinary arts, engaged in a multitude of varying work experiences (including a stint at Home Depot, which is fodder for another day). I consider myself to be a fairly well educated individual, with an eclectic work-style, fairly strong work ethic, and a arsenal of skills I can bring to any kind of employment I choose to take.

I've addressed this before, but Im going to go into detail here. Many times have I recieved the question "Why would you move to Roanoke?" and in my present job, its usually followed by "But don't you make more money in New York City?"

This is not about why I moved here. This will focus on the myth of making more money by living in a larger city.

Opportunities present themselves when they see fit. Regardless of where you are, what you might be doing, or what you want to do - opportunities have no consideration. Which is why we have built-in guidance, also known as our ability to reason.

Some cold, hard numbers:
Average salary of a cook in Roanoke (oddly enough listings for Chef are limited to Casinos in both NY and RKE) via salary.com: Median yearly salary for a cook in Roanoke is $30,552, a figure which I question highly, but will work with as the actual amount means little.

Average salary of a cook in New York City: Median yearly salary is $36,790.

A difference of $6,238 per year.

Allright - everyone on board? Good. Here is the chilling facts about that $36k a year.

You have to live somewhere: Similar sized apartment (comparable to what I have now, in sq. ft. alone.) 1 bed, 1 bath.. heat and water included. $1400 a month, with 1 months rent deposit and 1 month security. So your first month winds up costing you $2800-4200 depending on how you view it. No outdoor area, no pets. Thats apartments. Oh, and you need to find your own parking, or pay for it monthly.

Homes? 2 bedroom, 1.5 bath $365,000
The mortgage (assuming 20% down payment and 6.5% APR) would be $1,762 a month. Yes, a month.

And mind you, none of this is including your standards of phone, internet, cable.. Utilities combined can be close to $500 a month.

Or food for that matter. Or gas ($3.11 is the cheapest I can find in Queens)
And don't even ask about taxes. Sales Tax rate of 8.62%. 6.85% income tax on that $36k salary (statewide) in addition to the NYC income tax rate of (hold on with this one) $628 plus 3.534% of excess over $21k. I'm not even about to do the math on that one, Im not nearly that bored. And for the Head of Household, it becomes $970 plus 3.591% over $30k.

So based on the numbers for owning a house, plus additional utils - you come out owing roughly $2500 a month in basic bills. Again, not including food, medicine, transportation or the rest. And your gross income monthly on that $36k is $3065.83 which leaves you with a gross grand total of $565 a month to pay everything else with. And a montly metrocard for 30 day use on the subway or bus is $76. So you have 30 days in which to live on $489 bucks (again, without taxes being taken out). Can it be done? Of course it can, but will you get ahead? Never.

And lets remember that as a cook, there is always someone who can do it cheaper than you can.

So lets consider the myth of "You make more in larger cities" largely busted. And how can I say that with such certainty? Hell, I'm living here - doing ok.. putting some money aside in the bank each month.. not struggling..

And I have more than I would up there.. larger apartment, which allows pets by the way. More land around the building to walk the pets on.. a wall on which to sit, fresh produce mere minutes away..

Forget the crime, the smog, the stress.. when you come down to the basic numbers of it.. You make more in Roanoke, quality wise, and more in New York quantity wise. You just don't see it in NYC..



Do we rate?

Does Roanoke rate high enough to have gangs?


Do dopes in Roanoke think we rate high enough to have gangs? According to the news, yep.

Guess what: I could drop the local thug life in my old hood in NY, and they would be back here - happy to mow the lawn, in moments.

But, you have to remember the "cool" factor - its cooler to tell people you are in a gang. Guess what? Im a Ghostbuster! Ain't I cool?

Roanoke has nothing so organized, nothing so encompassing as organized crime. Well, I shouldn't say that. Roanoke does have a history with organized crime (the local former moonshine operations are not the only reason the FBI is HQ here), just not of the kind that would create gangs.

Local gangs, sure. We probably have tons of them. Probably even some in the County high schools, they just don't seem like gangs.. but they are. Gangs as a defineable term exist everywhere, Gangs as an organized "terrorist" group (lets not mince words, thats pretty much the only thing they are good for) exist rarely. But, the threat of a organized gang is visceral enough to bring the city's population to trembles.

Honest to god truth, word from the street. Not gangs. Trust the street on this one folks - don't get hoodwinked by the media's portrayal of the hype. Yes, Gaskins did say it could have been gang-related. But I assure you, he was not talking about organized national gangs. He was talking about bored hoodlums with nothing better to do than commit crime, flagrantly break laws, and not work.

You want a gang worth fearing, try the Irish Mafia, MS-13, and the like.

You wont see any of them wasting time on Roanoke.

UPDATE***(10:22pm) If you wish to discuss further, head over to the messageboard. Free flowing conversation without having to post comment after comment...


Sundays on the Market

Actually, lately it's more like Sunday's on the street.

I love the market, and I think the idea of it being open on Sunday is one of the best I've heard in a long time. Even the vendors I've spoken with are amazed at the amount of customers on Sundays.

But now theres a problem, a big problem.

I thought the primary focus of the City Farmes Market was for local merchants to sell things, and local customers to buy.

Hard to do when you cannot get to the merchants. Or even worse, when your a merchant who finds that the available booth space is limited by diners.

Yep, diners.

2 major guilty parties here. Wertz, who has apparently been give the greenlight to dominate the corner of Kirk and Market so they can bar-b-que. Allright - was nice to smell a bbq while walking among the vendors, but no longer. Now - they have chained off the vendor space directly before the restaurant, for their own private use. I'd like to know what, when, and who authorized such a thing. The blocking of a sidewalk (forcing pedestrians into the roadway which bears traffic), the removal of prime vendor space, and the usurping of city property for private gain. How much they paying?

Well, that was bad, but limited bad. Now they have allies. My "Bad Karma" canidate, Trio. For those of you who have not experienced Trio yet, it's name also describes how many storefronts the operation controls. Walking towards Church on Market - theres a dining room, a wine store, and the bar/restaurant area. Now, they too have taken control of ALL 3 storefront sidewalks for use as their own private dining area.

Pardon me? One of those storefronts is not even restaurant related. They must have paid well for such a prize. Now there are those who will say there are rarely vendors down that far on Market. I beg to differ, I have purchased some of the finest produce there from a vendor who tends to show once the produce season is in full swing. Will Trio give back the space when that vendor shows?

With Trio inserting their dining area into the sidewalk, there is barely enough room for a person to walk and browse, much less stop and NOT have a massive backup of pedestrians behind them.

Although Im sure that with the limited space, and impassible sidewalks, the vendors are thrilled as punch over this new development. I know I would be if someone else was cutting into my profits simply because they had more money and could pay for the right to limit my visiblity to the public.

Fair? Oh yeah, totally.

Now then, this could be easily made acceptable in one easy step. Close down Market St. on Sundays. No traffic, no cars.. just an open walkway for shoppers and diners alike. More room would be opened up for vendors, more money would flow...

Imagine that.. more money downtown. On a Sunday of all things! Heavens to betsy...

What will they think of next....


Just a note

Figured I'd let you all know that as of 3:45pm today, the front of the Lonesome Dove still stood in its place.

It did not appear that any work was done on site today.

I'll keep you abreast of details tomorrow.

Almost have the kinks worked out of the software that powers Forgotten-Roanoke.com, which means we are mere moments away from a new page.

Don't worry, I'll let you know when.

LotzOthoughtz: Roanoke's Revolution :: Downtown

LotzOthoughtz: Roanoke's Revolution :: Downtown

Big props to Lotz (aka ATL) for keeping an eye on the storefront while I've been out carousing the night away.

It takes guts to point out the painful truth, not to mention a somewhat suicidal outlook, especially when you realise the task at hand... calling a populous to arms over the drastic and necesscary changes needed to keep a city alive.

It's a long fight, and a hard battle to win.. good to have a comrade in arms.